Why All Pregnant Women Should Be Doing Perineal Massage

If you're reading this as an expectant mother then congratulations! If you're reading this for future reference or perhaps you're not planning on having babies and you're just curious, then a big welcome to you too.

There is a lot of prep and planning that goes into having babies, from birth plans to baby shopping, birthing classes and setting up nursery furniture. How many put the same amount of prep work into themselves and their bodies for birth? Perineal massage helps soften the tissues that baby stretches on their way out into the world. Giving some extra attention to this area during the run up to giving birth can help you avoid bruising, tearing and make your recovery a little easier.


What is perineal massage?

What is the perineum

If you weren't sure, the perineum is the patch of flesh in between the opening of the vagina and the anus. It attaches to the pelvic floor and all the muscles that make it up.

Perineal massage is the act of massaging and rubbing the perineum and vagina walls to stretch it out. The aim is to prepare your perineum and vagina for birth when they will need to stretch to allow baby into the world. It can be done by you or your partner 3-4 times per week.


How to do perineal massage

1. Make sure your/ your partner’s hands are clean. If your nails are long or sharp you should clip them or file them down to avoid scratching your delicate skin.

 

Perineal massage

2. Find a comfortable and private place to do the massage. This might be laying on your bed or sofa or being stood with a leg on the bath or a stool. As long as it’s safe, clean, comfortable and private then whatever you fancy is perfect.

 

3. Apply your oil or lubricant of choice. Try a natural oil like coconut, almond or olive. A personal lubricant like KY Jelly can also work. Whatever you choose, avoid synthetic oils like baby oil or petroleum

Perineal massage oils

4. Place 1 or both thumbs about 1 inch into the vagina. If a partner is helping with the massage, they should use index fingers instead.

 

5. Keep the thumbs in the stretched position for about a minute. After this, move the thumbs outward and inward in a slow U shape motion.

 

perineal massage benefits

 

6. Relax! A relaxed body and mind will help you feel more comfortable during the massage. It will get easier overtime as the tissues stretch out gently. Don’t forget to keep a note of the time, don’t spend more than 5 minutes on the massage.



The benefits of perineal massage

Up to 80% of women will suffer with a degree of tearing with vaginal births, and around 2 thirds of tears require stitches. A damaged perineum can cause pelvic floor dysfunction like urinary or fecal incontinence, prolapse or painful sex.

benefits of perineal massage

Prepares the tissues for birth -  Increases blood flow to help tissues and skin stretch more easily with less pain during labour.


Lowers risk of perineal tears - About 1 in 15 women who regularly do perineal massage don’t need an episiotomy (a surgical cut to the perineum to enlarge the vaginal opening) or experience a tear that needs stitches.


Helps with scar tissue - Women who have previously injured their perineum or have a rigid perineum (dancers and horse riders are some examples of those who suffer with this) may find relief through perineal massage.


Prepares you for birth -  Stretching out and manipulating this area can give you some idea of the sensations and feelings you encounter during birth. 

Final thoughts…

If you’re pregnant, it might be worth adding in perineal massage into your daily routine in the run up to giving birth. It can be a nice moment of self care and privacy or a moment of connection with your partner if you decide to complete it together. Just remember 3-4 times per week and no more than 5 minutes per session, using a natural oil or personal lubricant. It might take a little practice at first and you may find it helpful to use a mirror the first few times to ensure you are hitting the right spots. 

 

We hope you enjoyed this blog, why not check out Midwives save lives – SecretWhispers™ or "I don't want to hold my baby" – SecretWhispers™

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References

How to Do Perineal Massage: Oils to Use, Benefits, More (healthline.com)

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